Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strangers on a Train

So, the Affection Unit and I are on the train back from Glasgow. And it's a horrible train.

Eight people are arguing over two seats. All of them have tickets for the same seats. Unfortunately a woman and her luggage are occupying them. "I don't have a reservation, no," she says, "But my son MUST sit with his back to the engine."

That kind of train.

We slump down somewhere. We're not having a row. But then again, we may only be speaking to each other via that cat. You know how it goes.

There's an announcement - upgrade to first class for 15 quid. We look around the carriage. A jolly lady is on the phone, "Och, Mary! They're saying it's terrible full, but I'm not moving my case up. It's so big and heavy and I'm sure it'll be fine! Have you seen Laura's ankles?".

We upgrade.

We find a free table. There's a posh-looking lady. We smile. We sit down. We quietly place the cat on the edge of the table. We nod politely.

And then it begins. Please note - travelling with a cat is a great way of making new friends. On the journey to Scotland we'd ended up with an impromptu petting zoo. Now, on the way back, we were sat with a woman called Elaine whose husband was something big in the International Monetary Fund in Washington. She spoke with a refained English voice that dropped like a stone as soon as she talked about her mother in Ayr.

At some point we were joined by a nice lady called Charlotte who had the air of an escaped nun. We were talking about maths and Charlotte suddenly announced, "I'm sorry, they lost me with Calculus. Silly of me, I know, but Calculus did it for me. I ran away to India and smoked a lot of dope." Turned out she ran a pension fund and lived in Islington, so it had clearly worked out well for her.

Shortly after Preston we had a picnic. Charlotte presented quiche, we provided some dips, and Elaine produced a bottle of wine. We started to laugh a lot.

The cat kept shooting "please adopt me" glances at Elaine. We freed the cat from her basket and she looked about to jump onto my lap - but instead bolted under a seats. I went to rescue her and discovered that, even in first class, people are shits.

"That was the worst thing you could have done!" someone informed me.

"I hope you know I have cat allergies," said a woman.

The cat had curled up under a seat, and required a tiny bit of fetching out. Frankly, compared to the horror inflicted on trains by your average toddler, fairly minor. But interesting to see how people reacted.

Elaine loudly shouted "take no notice!" and informed us that when Kennedy was shot she was on stage with Sooty and dressed as a diddy-girl.

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